NYCGuide

The 12 Most Exciting Dinner Spots In NYC Right Now

A night out at one of these places—whether it’s for a catch-up with a friend or an impressive date night—feels overwhelmingly of the moment.

For anyone wondering which sit-down restaurants are currently hot in New York City right this second, you've arrived at the right internet place. What does “hot” mean? Well, it’s safe to say that we attempt to put on flattering outfits to dine at each restaurant below (and possibly even put on eye makeup and our “good deodorant”). A night out at one of these places—whether it’s for a casual catch-up with a friend or an impressive date night—feels overwhelmingly of the moment.

Many of the restaurants below are brand spanking new, but we’ve also listed older spots doing novel and noteworthy things. And, as always, we aren't recommending any of these places simply for being sceney. We’ve been to each and every one of these restaurants, and we love the food they serve.

The Spots

photo credit: David A. Lee

Bonnie’s imageoverride image
8.5

Bonnie’s

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People keep asking us how to get a table at Bonnie’s, and the only answers we give them are “persistence” or “sorry wrong number.” (If you’re desperate for a seat TONIGHT, show up at 5pm and ask nicely for a spot at the bar.) Think of this new Cantonese-American restaurant in Williamsburg as a party—complete with a large-format Long Island iced tea and a color-changing bathroom that behaves like a DJ’s closet—where you can enjoy the kind of comforting, umami-rich food you’d want to eat alone in your living room. We especially like the Kewpie-sloshed shrimp and walnuts, the wun tun en brodo with orange zest and parm, and the honker of a McRib made with sticky cha siu pork and hot Chinese mustard. Don’t skip the congee and chrysanthemum salad in favor of flashier things, though. They’re both great examples of how measured and subtle the cooking can be here.

This Nigerian restaurant in Bed-Stuy serves a $75 four-course, prix-fixe meal based on the food the chef/owner, Ayo Balogun, ate growing up in the north-central Kwara state. The space has the energy of a cool gallery opening, only the attendees here don't have daddies and personal connections to the Getty family. Or maybe they do. But they're not insufferable about it. Before each course–whether it’s a light-but-spicy fish pepper soup, mushroom suya, or homemade cheese–Ayo waltzes to the front of the room and tells everyone in the restaurant what they’re about to eat, what the dish means to him, and four or five funny or insightful anecdotes that pop into his head along the way. Dept. Of Culture can only fit about 15 diners per seating, most of whom commune at a wooden table next to framed photos of the Ayo’s grandparents. If you already have a friend who will host a night of giggles and homemade Nigerian cheese, congrats on your life, man. For everyone else, Dept. Of Culture should be your spot.

Rolo’s is a little like Applebee's or The Smith in that they serve American-ish food that would make almost anyone happy. But this restaurant is located in Ridgewood, it's kind of a scene at the bar, and they go the extra mile to make just about everything in house. You can get a very good burger and a scoop of caramelized ice cream (like you would at a diner outside of Ohio, only much better). You could also come with a group and split more inventive stuff like a crab salad with habanada peppers and kohlrabi or some Szechuan cabbage charred so that it's a little like jerky. Whatever you do, prioritize the ice cream, naturally fermented polenta bread, and house-cured meat. All three are worth a trip.

For All Things Good is not new by any means. But if you haven’t been here in a while (or ever), know that the scene at night has never been so fun. They got their liquor license within the last six-ish months, and they're now making some of the best mezcal and beer cocktails we’ve had of late. The verde michelada is an ideal thing to drink on a weekend afternoon, and the warming-spice-heavy espresso martini will convert anyone into a person who (sadly) orders espresso martinis. Treat this Mexican corn emporium like a bar the next time you and some friends are looking to hang out in Bed-Stuy, even though you should probably order a couple entrees while you’re at it.

Hawksmoor NYC, a London transplant on Park Avenue and 22nd Street, is the city’s newest great steakhouse. It’s the perfect place to have an ice-cold martini followed by some crispy Yorkshire pudding and a $50 strip steak with a side of creamed spinach. You should probably dress up prior to coming here, since the place feels a bit Anna Delvey-adjacent. But if you sit at the bar, you can always have a Diet Deluxe experience on a regular old Thursday night.

Ugly Baby has always been an exciting place to have dinner. Although until recently, you had to DM them on Instagram in order to make a reservation and place your order—which felt stressful and inconvenient. Now, you still have to place your order ahead of time, but you can book a table on Tock, and—if you have four or more people—you can get a set menu for $40 per person. That might not sound super remarkable, but A) you’ll get to try a bunch of different things, and B) Ugly Baby serves some of the best Thai food in NYC. Stop by with a few friends, and enjoy a spread that might include a whole crispy sea bream topped with fried shallots, creamy blue crab hor mak wrapped in banana leaf, and a salted mackerel dip that comes with what we can only describe as a cornucopia of fresh vegetables.

Here’s the thing: You can’t get into Dhamaka without planning a month in advance. But Semma–from the same team–is just as exciting and easier to get into. This West Village restaurant focuses on South Indian regional specialties typically found in rural home settings, and the dishes we’re most jazzed about here are the ones no other NYC places offer. Try the soft snails taken out of their shells and mixed with fiery tamarind and ginger, or go for the vat of tender venison drenched in a chutney that tastes like clove and smoke. If you’re someone who flirts by way of crustacea, call ahead and secure a $115 whole Dungeness crab for your dinner. Semma only serves three to five of them per night. 

This Ridgewood restaurant first opened as an Austrian cafe back in 2019. Before that, the director responsible for the The Irishman (Martin...something?) used the space as a film set. In more riveting news, Chef Kate Telfeyan has taken over the operation with a menu that bounces around from Chinese influence to twists on Korean and Japanese classics. For a while they were serving a fantastic weekend brunch. More recently, though, Porcelain has shifted their focus to a dinner menu that involves dandan noodle lasagna, nori fried pork chops, and good cocktails. This is the kind of place where you could post up with your laptop for a couple hours or meet a date for a casual meal while you admire the collection of funky '70s wallpaper, Civil-war era spooky portraits, and the fact that there’s also a piano in the corner.

Nura wins the prize for Dining Room Where Someone Would Be Most Likely to Take off Their Shoes. This new restaurant has essentially turned a giant auto garage into a Greenpoint Architectural Digest shoot: carpets galore, plants galore, and little booths where people eat delicata squash…galore. The “global” menu is understandably all over the place, but we’ve especially enjoyed the dips and the radicchio salad here. (Basically, you should follow anything that leads you to their tandoor-baked bread.) The next time you need to have a dinner that feels vegetarian-friendly and very Greenpoint, come here.

Jody Williams and Rita Sodi could sell tap water and saltines on a barge in the Hudson, and it’d be one the toughest reservations in town. But, for now, the owners of I Sodi, Via Carota, and Buvette seem content to keep serving unpretentiously delicious food in the West Village. The Commerce Inn is their latest spot in the neighborhood, and it’s a bit of a departure from cacio e pepe and coq au vin. The menu here is full of dishes inspired by the Shakers. You’ll find relatively simple, hearty plates like some juicy leeks topped with bacon bits and a heavily brined pork chop over a bed of vinegary black eyed peas. It’s the sort of food you might eat at whatever the best tavern was in 1823, but it’s served in a small, charming space on Commerce Street with chalkboard menus and servers in matching beige chore coats. Bring a date, or grab a seat in the bar area up front and sample some Shaker delicacies, such as the 50/50 martini.

Mari is the most exciting thing to happen to Hell's Kitchen since Alicia Keys lived in the neighborhood. (Or at least since Kochi opened, a place coincidentally run by the same restaurant team as Mari.) This Korean spot serves a $125, 13-course tasting, the bulk of which is dedicated to U-shaped hand rolls filled with marinated meat or fish plus crunchy accessories on top and pickled daikon underneath. Unlike some handroll places you may have been to before—like Nami Nori or Domodomo—Mari incorporates Korean sauces and spices into every two-bite roll. We especially like the piece with scallop that’s marinated in makgeolli then torched and topped with candied anchovies. Come before a show, or plan a meet-in-the-middle date night on the West Side. There are a couple tables in the back, but you should sit at the big rectangular counter in the middle of the restaurant so you can watch the chefs prep all the pieces.

We’re going to give Shukette some credit for how they designed their menu. All the dips and the breads at this Mediterranean restaurant in Chelsea must be ordered separately, so when you get the Moroccan bread embedded with spreadable cloves of roasted garlic, you’ll want to order the tangy labneh as well. Or, if you order the knot of Syrian string cheese, you’ll need the potato-filled gozleme to go with it. If you have any room after that vicious cycle, go for the whole porgy coated in herb pistou (served in a cage) or the juicy grilled chicken that’s marinated in saffron yogurt. The latter will make you remember that chicken can be much better than the rotisserie one you get every other week at Whole Foods. Bring a few friends, as the menu is designed for sharing—and order lots of bread. (We cannot stress this enough.)

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